Friday’s Den: Welcome to the best weekend of the year

13) UCLA 86, Michigan State 80 OT
— Spartans led by 11 at halftime- they scored 3 points in last 6:20.
— Michigan State lost four of its last six games.
— UCLA breaks a 4-game skid, plays BYU Saturday.

12) Drake 53, Wichita State 52
— Drake scored 25 points in first 28:36, 28 points in last 11:24.
— When they were MVC rivals, Wichita beat Drake the last 14 times they played.
— Bulldogs move on to play USC Saturday.

11) Texas Southern 60, Mount St Mary’s 52
— Mount St Mary’s led by 10 at half, scored only 22 points in 2nd half.
— Texas Southern has won 15 of its last 16 games.
— Tigers move on to play #1-seed Michigan Saturday.

10) Norfolk State 54, Appalachian State 53:
— Norfolk led by 19 in second half, blew the lead, rallied from down 6 with 5:22 left.
— App State missed their first 19 3-pointers, finished 6-36.
— Norfolk State moves on to play #1 Gonzaga Saturday.

9) Jalen Wilson, leading rebounder for Kansas, is out for the Jayhawks’ first round game with Eastern Washington.

8) Gonzaga is the 20th team to be unbeaten heading into the NCAA Tournament; of the previous 19, seven of them won the NCAA title, with Indiana in 1976 the last one. Lot more teams in the tournament since the mid-80’s; have to win six games to win a title now.

7) 12 of the last 32 national champs won their conference tournament.

6) In the NFL, Buffalo Bills signed former Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky to be their backup QB. Wonder how the Bears’ GM explains away trading 3rd and 4th-round picks to move up to draft Trubisky, when Patrick Mahomes was sitting there in the same draft. Oy.

5) Las Vegas Raiders want backup QB Marcus Mariota to take a pay cut, from $10.725M to $3M a year. If Mariota declines, Raiders are expected to release him. Dallas needs a backup QB, so Mariota could land there if the Raiders release him.

4) According to the Boston Globe and Andy, who reads this website, New England Patriots were “uncharacteristically extravagant in NFL free agency Monday, essentially buying a new team” for ’21, awarding contracts to seven free agents with a “maximum value” close to $200M and nearly $100M in guarantees.

Of the previous five NFL teams who spent that much dinero on free agents, none of them made the playoffs the following season.

3) In baseball, hitters seem happy that in-game video is back in dugouts this season; there are lot of hitters who became dependent on seeing their at-bats when they got back to the dugout, so they could make adjustments for their next turn at the dish.

2) When I was in high school, a long time ago, the mid-70’s, ESPN didn’t exist yet and I didn’t have control of our family’s remote control anyway, so I spent lot of nights in my room, listening to ballgames on the radio. Lot of nights.

My parents had this battery-powered radio that was the size of a shoe box; at night, it could get any station between Albany and Detroit and as far south as Baltimore, St Louis on a good night.

For 2-3 years, I spent a ton of time listening to Cleveland Indians games on WWWE in the summer and Cavaliers’ games in the winter. Joe Tait was the play-by-play guy for both teams; he was enthusiastic but fair, smart as hell and he taught me a lot about sports, he helped fuel the passion for sports that I still carry today.

Mr Tait passed away last week at age 83; I was watching the replay of an Indians’ spring training game the other night and they paid tribute to him. He was so much fun to listen to, yelling “Bingo!!!!” when Bobby Smith would nail a jumper; his banter with baseball partner Herb Score taught me a lot about baseball.

RIP sir, you were freakin’ great at your job.

1) Somewhere upstairs in this house of mine, there is a cassette tape with the last inning of a 1977 Indians-Angels game, Dennis Eckersley’s no-hitter. I had this genius idea that I could be a broadcaster, so I would tape broadcasters and try to learn how they did it. That plan never got too far off the ground.

This afternoon, I looked up the boxscore of that 1977 game, 44 years ago and it downed on me; of the 10 guys who started for the Indians that night, four of them are still baseball broadcasters:
— Dennis Eckersley (Red Sox)
— Ray Fosse (A’s)
— Duane Kuiper (Giants)
— Rick Manning (Indians)

Enjoy the basketball games this weekend; if you see a pizza delivery guy wandering around lost, send him to my house.

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.